Book Review – Richistan by Robert Frank

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Robert Frank’s book titled Richistan is about the lives of the new rich and those who make up the wealth boom occurring in the United States.  The book is 250 pages long and is fun to read.  While we know there are millions of millionaires in the world, Frank exposes them in completely new ways, from how they hire butlers to the silly ways in which they make their fortunes.  Frank gives us perspectives that we never think about when it comes to the self-made, rich population. 

To start the book, the author gives the reader an idea of just how many millionaires there are in the United States; about eight million as of 2003.  This number has risen drastically between 2003 and 2009.  He also goes on to define the term “Richistan,” and divides his new country into three different categories based on household net worth.  Lower Richistan consists of households worth $1 million to $10 million dollars.  Middle Richistan consists of households worth $10 million to $100 million dollars.  The elite Upper Richistanis consist of households worth $100 million to $1 billion dollars.  There are only several thousand households in the Upper Richistani category. 

Chapter one is titled, “Butler Boot Camp: Housetraining the New Rich.”  This chapter serves as a great introduction to the secret world of the new rich households.  Frank talks of butler boot camps, especially the boot camp held at the prestigious Starkey International Institute for Household Management.  Here, men and women train to simply run the households of millionaires and billionaires and get paid a ridiculous amount of money to answer to the wishes and needs of the super rich.  These butlers get paid anywhere from $75,000 dollars to well into six-figure territory.  They must know how to please the super rich, and tasks include washing high-end cars, rolling cigars, setting up home entertainment systems, and the usual services such as cooking and babysitting. 

Chapter two is titled, “The Third Wave: The Era of the Instapreneur.”  There are thousands of people who are becoming instant millionaires every year.  In fact, in 2005 there were about 227,000 new financial millionaires in the United States alone.  Robert Frank describes in this chapter the six ways that most people acquire their wealth and points out several individuals who have instantly made millions of dollars through development and sales of several large companies.  Jared Polis, for example, has developed more than a dozen companies and sold them all for more than a total of $600 million dollars. 

Chapter three is titled, “Making It: Ed Bazinet, King of the Ceramic Village.”  This chapter is devoted to those who have made fortunes in an unlikely manner.  One person mentioned in this chapter is Sydell Miller.  Ms. Miller operated a hair salon and developed a shampoo line called Matrix Essentials, which she was fortunate enough to sell to Bristol-Myers Squibb for a mere $1 billion dollars.  Then there is the chapter’s title man, Ed Bazinet, who created miniature ceramic houses and …